Last year's enjoyable launch game, Kinect Sports, was a critically acclaimed showpiece for Microsoft's motion sensing camera. It was so good, that consumers snatched up over three million copies, prompting the billion dollar company to green light a sequel.
The result, Kinect Sports: Season Two, appears to be every bit as good as its predecessor.
Rare's latest features six new sports to enjoy, each one more addictive than the last.
The game's most impressive activity, Darts, almost perfectly mimics the real deal, minus the occasional finger prick and the numerous holes in the wall.
Players stand in front of their televisions, hold an imaginary dart and watch as an on-screen hand appears. From there, it's as simple as making a throwing motion to send that dart to its intended location.
Matches support up to four players offline and one-versus-one via Xbox Live. From there, everyone competes to reduce their individual scores from 501 to zero.
More interesting, though, is Pop Darts, one of Season Two's three Challenge Play Modes that let users send high scores to friends via Xbox Live. Here, the object is to pop as many balloons as possible before time expires, where destroying said balloons adds precious seconds to the clock.
Another sport, Skiing, provides a more intense workout, as players pull into a tuck position and lean right or left to pass through gates. Similarly, they can fire up this event's Challenge Mode, Downhill Dodge, and tackle progressively difficult courses, jumping and ducking over obstacles to outscore their opponents.
Baseball, meanwhile, has a Challenge Mode all its own in the form of Homerun Hero, allowing gamers to blast pitches out of the park. On top of that, they can compete against the computer/other players in a more traditional three-inning game.
As for Golf, players should expect to retire their Wii Remotes, as the Kinect Sports: Season Two iteration is without question superior. Up to four players can hit the links, choosing between different clubs and taking practice swings before sending their golf balls into orbit.
The coolest feature is the ability to place one's hand over his or her eyes, prompting the game to offer a bird's eye view of the course.
Rare also put Nintendo's Wii Tennis to shame with a more advanced offering, where wannabe stars step into balls (on offense and defense) before hitting them with imaginary rackets, instead of just standing still the whole time.
Finally, there's American football. Although we don't expect it to replace Electronic Arts' Madden NFL anytime soon, Rare has done a great job capturing the thrill of being a quarterback and throwing a long bomb to a wide open receiver, or running in place to take the ball 100 yards to pay dirt. Quarters end too quickly, but at the very least, it's cool kicking field goals and dodging defensemen.
To compliment this impressive package, Rare included more mascots as well as 300 plus voice commands that put further distance between players and those plastic controllers. In fact, they can control much of the experience without pressing a single button.
Although there's still work to do (we encountered a couple minor glitches), Kinect Sports: Season Two should not only compliment its prequel, but surpass it. Most importantly, the game's a lot of fun, and further proof that Microsoft's Kinect has a bright future.